Teams who have been waiting to bid on Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada can now stop waiting. According to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, Moncada is now a free agent after Major League Baseball slightly altered its rules with regard to Cuban players.
Initially, the league required an unblocking license that could be obtained from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. However, Passan notes potential baseball prospects who present affidavits to the league noting they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not directly connected to the Cuban government can sign with a major league team without a delay.
Moncada left Cuba and traveled to Guatemala, and according to Passan, obtained several documents that indicated he is a permanent resident. The league issued a memo to each team explaining the changes on Tuesday afternoon. The memo reportedly included "specific language" that a team can use in an affidavit. With the rule change, Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez would both be eligible to sign immediately.
Although several teams have interest in Olivera and Ibanez, Moncada is receiving the most attention. Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports notes that Moncada has already worked out for several clubs, and as a result, it should not take long for him to be signed. He is expected to receive a deal worth $30 or $40 million, but a signing bonus could make any deal worth up to $80 million.
Moncada could wait to choose a team, however Passan believes the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers all have interest. He is expected to have several more workouts in February, and will likely be evaluated a second time by the teams most interested.
Several Cuban players, including Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and most recently Jose Abreu have explored their major league options. Ultimately, the use of affidavits provided the league with enough protection, allowing Moncada to sign with a team of his choice.